The Glendale City Council this week unanimously approved spending $800,000 on two bridges, one of which will connect the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk to the other side of the Los Angeles River and an expanse of parkland there.
The riverwalk has been discussed for more than a decade and is part of a larger effort to beautify and restore the Los Angeles River for recreational use. Its components range from equestrian amenities to bike and pedestrian paths. About $1.7 million in construction work for the first phase of the project, from Bette Davis Park on Paula Avenue to the edge of DreamWorks Animation near Flower Street, is already underway.
One bridge will connect a trail between the first phase of the riverwalk to the second portion, which continues a bike and pedestrian pathway to the Verdugo Wash. The other bridge would run over the Los Angeles River to Griffith Park.
The bridges are to get $400,000 each, according to a city report. The money will cover the construction of the trail bridge over a drainage channel into the Los Angeles River and the preliminary engineering for the Griffith Park bridge.
The money comes from Measure R, a half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.
Councilman Ara Najarian applauded city officials for tapping a funding source that typically has helped pay for more traditional transportation projects.
"We have wrapped in [Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority] Measure R money, typically used for highways and transit," Najarian said."Our staff and Metro staff were able to creatively use the funding."
The riverwalk has hit several funding snags, with $1.1 million in state grant money tied up in a budget crisis.
The bridge connecting the two trails is first up for construction, with design phases planned for this summer. The Griffith Park bridge is included in the final phase of the riverwalk.
The first phase of construction, which includes equestrian arenas, an art installation, a trail and picnic areas, is set to be completed this fall. The equestrian arenas are completed and most of the parking lot and entry way have already been constructed, said John Pearson, a city park development project manager.
The Park, Recreation & Community Services Commission last month approved the design of the art installation. It includes a seating entry known as a "circle of reflection" in the west area of the riverwalk near the Los Angeles border. It will include a wall made of concrete panels and donated artifacts, according to a city report.
Sandblasted images symbolizing themes such as wildlife, equestrian activities and agriculture are to be featured on the wing walls of historic flood gates. An artistic representation of the river will also be placed along the spillway between the seating area and the flood gates.
"It's an exciting project," said Parks Commission President Stephen Ropfogel.
Pearson called it ambitious due to limited funding. The art installation is included in the $1.7 million for the first phase.
The city has applied for a $975,000 California River Parkways Grant to cover the second phase, which includes a bicycle and pedestrian path and a small seating area near the Verdugo Wash, but officials have yet to hear back about their request.
"It could be any day now. We're hoping it comes through before the bridge construction," said Project Management Administrator Emil Tatevosian,
The third phase of the riverwalk project will include a third bridge connecting the riverwalk to North Atwater across the Verdugo Wash. The total cost for the final two bridges is unknown, Pearson said.